Transgender women can now receive hormonal therapy at special POP INN clinics

Sibusiso ‘Sade’ Khumalo is one of many transgender women now receiving their hormone therapy from Aurum Insitute POP INN clinics. Picture: Supplied.

Sibusiso ‘Sade’ Khumalo is one of many transgender women now receiving their hormone therapy from Aurum Insitute POP INN clinics. Picture: Supplied.

Published Sep 18, 2022


Durban - The journey to changing one’s gender will now be a lot smoother for KwaZulu-Natal’s transgender women, as the Aurum Institute has extended a helping hand to this community by making hormone therapy available at their POP INN clinics.

The Aurum Institute takes a holistic approach to gender-affirming healthcare by providing physical and psychosocial care for persons who do not identify with the gender they were born with.

On Friday, the first cohort received their first dose of hormone therapy at the Durban POP INN clinic, and Sibusiso “Sade” Khumalo, 31, from uMlazi, was among the few who were there.

Khumalo told the Sunday Tribune that from a young age she had always felt that she was trapped in the wrong body. However, she now looks forward to officially changing her gender at the Department of Home Affairs when the time comes.

This process will require a letter from a doctor and one from a social worker. Khumalo has been consulting with both, which is a prerequisite for hormone therapy.

“I have always known that I am woman who is gorgeous and brave,” said Khumalo.

“I am built as a woman, and the hormone therapy will fast-track the changes. I have been using regular contraceptives while waiting to find an affordable doctor who could assist me, because (the treatment is) expensive.”

Khumalo said the journey with the Aurum Institute had exposed her to deeper knowledge and, with a supportive family in her corner, she was ready to fully become the woman she had always believed herself to be.

Although her community has shown acceptance, Khumalo says she still encounters some challenges from people who are not knowledgeable about transgender women.

“They don’t understand what it means to be transgender. People assume that I am gay, but I am attracted to straight men (in the same way) as it happens to women,” she said.

As she has dreams of having a family one day, Khumalo says the possibility of never being able to have biological children is worrisome.

“I love kids, but my situation doesn’t allow me to have my own, unless I decide to freeze my sperm,” she said.

“I want people to know that you don’t wake up in the morning and decide that you are going to be a transgender woman. It’s something that you struggle with daily, and it’s not easy to come out, but you have to face the challenges if you know who you are.”

Sibusiso ‘Sade’ Khumalo is one of many transgender women now receiving their hormone therapy from Aurum Insitute POP INN clinics. Picture: Supplied.

Nompumelelo Magagula, the project manager at the Aurum Institute, said that they had signed a memorandum of understanding with the KZN Department of Health to provide various services.

These include, but are not limited to, gender-affirming health-care services such as hormone therapy for transgender women; sexually transmitted infections screening, diagnosis and treatment; TB screening and treatment; same-day antiretroviral therapy initiation and viral-load testing; as well as free pre-exposure prophylaxis, which can reduce a person’s chances of contracting HIV.

Magagula said they currently had two POP INN clinics, one in Durban and the other in Pietermaritzburg.

She said it was important to have these specialised clinics, as accessing health care in mainstream facilities had proven to be difficult for key populations.

“They are often ridiculed, mistreated, and discriminated against. It is important to have these Aurum POP INN clinics to create a health-care facility that is a safe place for the community,” she said.

“Because men who sleep with men and transgender women are at high risk of contracting HIV, these facilities work tirelessly to educate the community about this risk and help them to protect themselves. They also offer comprehensive HIV care and treatment for those who are already infected with HIV.”

The KZN Department of Health is preparing to open its own pop-up clinics. MEC for Health Nomagugu Simelane said in the new financial year they would be training staff at these clinics on how to make members of the LGBTQI+ community feel welcome and help them gain better access to health-care services.

The pop-up clinics were still in the making, and the department would share information about them as soon as they were up and running.